Climate Of The Hunter

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Climate Of The Hunter
"Climate of The Hunter is a joyous exercise in filmmaking for fun, made with no apparent concern for bank books or balance sheets." | Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia

Sisters Alma (Ginger Gilmartin) and Elizabeth (Mary Buss) have known Wesley (Ben Hall) for may years - since the three of them were children, they sometimes say, but it's not quite clear what that means. What is clear is that Wesley's experience of life has been very different from theirs. He may, in fact be a vampire - but if so, he's a predator of the old school. When he's serious about somebody, he likes to move slowly, to enjoy the hunt, to ensure that he has complete control.

For a gentleman of such persuasions, he is - if one might say so without somebody calling the pun police - something of an acquired taste. He takes suaveness to a vulgar extreme, all rich baritone and red wine, spooling out passages of poetry and philosophy to impress his lady friends, waxing lyrical about the stars and simply insisting on being the centre of attention. He is, in other words, a Seventies anti hero cut adrift in an unfamiliar century, but one who finds himself very much at home in Mickey Reece's dimly lit, sumptuously textured square format menage (or folie?) à trois. Expertly distilled, the most pungent qualities of the era merge and flow together into something that is not quite tribute, not quite pastiche, certainly an indulgence for the committed cinéaste.

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Screening at Fantasia 2020, Climate of The Hunter is a joyous exercise in filmmaking for fun, made with no apparent concern for bank books or balance sheets. It has its own vision, character, mood, and it is absolutely uncompromising, so that even if one would find Wesley a terrible bore at dinner, the film is a pleasure to watch. Neither woman seems bored by him. At first there is clear rivalry between them. Over time this becomes more vicious and more complex. Elizabeth lays into Alma for her pot-smoking hippy lifestyle; Alma snipes at Elizabeth for her prim demeanour and childlessness. Alma's dog, Otis, looks on, bemused, unconcerned that there's a stranger in the house, perhaps feeling unable to assert himself because he's wearing a cone of shame. And then Alma's beautiful daughter drops by.

Shifting gears with ease, Reece shifts from the visual language of Amicus to something that recalls the early work of George Romero. His two heroines become more entrenched in their differences, each apparently on the verge of discovering her true nature. The stage is set for betrayal and revenge. Cigarette smoke blurs the candlelight. The fine old hunting lodge in the woods is preparing to live up to its name.

Some people won't understand Climate Of The Hunter at all - will notice only the slightness of the plot and the reliance on tropes long past their sell by date. Others will see a lovingly constructed imitation that outshines the original. Intense, obsequious and yet just a little bitter, it might - if it could - constitute a reflection on the fact that some of cinema's creations do not go easily into the grave.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2020
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Two sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Director: Mickey Reese

Writer: Mickey Reese, John Selvidge

Starring: Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss, Ben Hall

Year: 2019

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


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